Join or Sign In
Sign in to customize your TV listings
How about a show like Sons of Anarchy but with cops?
There's no show in existence like Sons of Anarchy (well, obviously the spin-off Mayans M.C., but that doesn't count), with its mix of brutal violence, fraternal bonds, and unabashed soap opera drama. The FX series came from the rough-and-tumble mind of Kurt Sutter, and starred Charlie Hunnam as Jackson "Jax" Teller, the vice president of the California-based motorcycle gang Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original (SAMCRO), following him and his club's exploits as they ran guns, fought other gangs, and battled their own internal issues. But in between the blood and violence, the emotions ran deep for seven seasons as brotherhood, loyalties, and family bonds were tested.
With the Sons of Anarchy spin-off Mayans M.C. Season 4 coming to a close soon, you're probably looking for something similar to Sons of Anarchy to watch. You'll find recommendations for more macho soaps about the bonds of brotherhood, dramas exploring power dynamics and criminal organizations, and/or shows with heart-pumping action. If you like Sons of Anarchy, these are the shows you should watch next.
We didn't spend enough time with cops of Charming, Calif., other than to see them get shot up or left in the dust during a car chase, but what we did see of the authorities proved that they weren't any more saints than our boys in SAMCRO. However, for a really good look at some dirty cops who seem like they were written by Kurt Sutter, give HBO's We Own This City a binge. From The Wire's David Simon and George Pelecanos, the drama follows the real-life massive corruption in the Baltimore Police Department's Gun Trace Task Force, which used excessive force, illegal arrests, and conspiring with criminals to make extra cash. It's gang warfare, but with cops. -Tim Surette
If Sons of Anarchy took place in a post-apocalyptic setting, it would probably look a lot like HBO Max's new drama DMZ. The DC Comics adaptation is set in a demilitarized zone in Manhattan during a second Civil War between the United States and secessionists, and stars Rosario Dawson as a woman looking for her son years after they were split up in the chaos of war. What makes DMZ like Sons of Anarchy is its attention to lawless tribalism, as different sects (gangs, basically) vie for power in the DMZ, much like different motorcycle gangs jockeyed for power in SOA. It's got all that macho energy you're looking for, too, via tattoos, fistfights, and chest-thumping. To further lock down the comparisons, DMZ was created by former Sons of Anarchy writer Roberto Patino, and it shows. -Tim Surette
Heels and Sons of Anarchy have more in common than you might realize at first glance. Both shows are about specific testosterone-soaked communities, and both center their stories around families full of men who speak in very low registers and struggle with the pressures placed on them by their fathers. In Heels, Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig play brothers who come from a family of wrestlers, one of whom is a ring heel (or, in other words, the villain), while the other is the ring hero. After their dad's death, they're left in charge of his wrestling promotion business, and as you can imagine, their fractured relationship really gets in the way of their ability to run it. There's a lot of simmering, slow-burning melodrama on this one, because when you get a bunch of tough guys to start questioning their relationships to masculinity, emotions will fly. -Allison Picurro
Warrior takes the gang warfare of Sons of Anarchy and plops it down in San Francisco's Chinatown in the late 1800s, where brutal and bloody brawls took place in the streets between rival Chinese tongs wrestling for power of the criminal underworld. If you're looking for more of Sons of Anarchy's violence, this is where you'll find it. But you'll also see the same themes of brotherhood, betrayal, and family. And if you thought Katey Sagal's Gemma was a tough cookie, wait until you see Olivia Cheng's brothel madam Ah Toy and Dianne Doan's tong leader Mai Ling. Like Sons of Anarchy, the show is overflowing with machismo, which extends even to its strong female characters. Unlike Sons of Anarchy, Warrior's first two seasons aired on Cinemax, so swearing and sex helps to, uhhh, color this world.
Mr. Inbetween's Ray Shoesmith (creator Scott Ryan) would have fit right in as a recruit for SAMCRO. The star of FX's Australian dramedy is more than happy to tussle with men twice his size, anger issues make him a threat to fly off the handle at any moment, and his bald head and goatee fit the look that's every bit as important when putting on the reaper badge. It also makes him a great hitman, a job he does for a local crime kingpin, but doesn't make him the best father to his young daughter and boyfriend to his new partner. It does, however, make for a great show about a guy who realizes his extremely violent life prevents him from maintaining a mistake-free domestic life. Filled with brutal violence and dark humor, Mr. Inbetween is a natural next watch for fans of Sons of Anarchy, right down to a critical storyline in Season 2 that involves a local motorcycle gang.
Is it cheating to include Mayans M.C., the spin-off of Sons of Anarchy featuring the Mayans, a rival biker gang turned ally of SAMCRO? Maybe! But that doesn't make the show any less worthy of being featured on this list. The series, which is set a couple years after the end of SOA and set on the U.S. and Mexico border, follows EZ Reyes (JD Pardo), a prospect in the Santo Padre charter of the Mayans, and his brother, Angel (Clayton Cardenas), a fully patched member. Everything you loved about Sons of Anarchy is found in Mayans M.C. -- macho dudes being macho, exciting chase sequences and shootouts, the making and breaking of deals and alliances, and deep contemplations on family and the ways in which the past always catches up to the present to affect the future. Plus, a few familiar faces from Sons of Anarchy have already popped up on the show, including the Mayans' Alvarez (Emilio Rivera) and some really cool surprises that we won't spoil here.
Sons of Anarchy was a family drama dripping with testosterone wrapped up inside a very specific community, and Kingdom is very much the same. The DirecTV/AT&T Audience series, which hit Netflix earlier this summer, is set against the blood- and sweat-soaked backdrop of mixed martial arts and follows Alvey Kulina (Frank Grillo), a former champion fighter who now runs a gym where he trains current fighters, including his sons, Jay and Nate (series stand out Jonathan Tucker and Nick Jonas). The show is positively drenched in testosterone, and the violent sport is integral to the characters and their lives, but the series is also a rich and thoughtful drama about the complicated nature of family. And thanks to the rest of the spectacular cast, which includes Matt Lauria as Ryan, a former champion fighter recently released from prison; Kiele Sanchez as Lisa, Alvey's girlfriend and business partner; and Joanna Going as Christina, Alvey's ex-wife and Nate and Jay's estranged mother, the show is also a rewarding story about the raw and exhausting fight for glory and the never-ending battle of addiction. The show is must-see TV.
Before he created Sons of Anarchy, Kurt Sutter was a writer and producer on The Shield, so if you haven't seen the acclaimed drama created by Shawn Ryan about corrupt cops that put FX on the map, now is the perfect time to dig in. The series follows the Strike Team, which often uses questionable, and even criminal, methods to police a dangerous neighborhood known for gang violence in Los Angeles. The series blurs the lines between right and wrong and asks what you're willing to accept from the men and women in blue (although the show was critically acclaimed when it aired, it likely reads a bit differently in 2020). If you watch, you'll also notice a number of familiar faces from SOA, as various cast members, including Walton Goggins, Kenny Johnson, Michael Chiklis, Jay Karnes, Ally Walker, Benito Martinez, CCH Pounder, and more, passed through Charming at one time or another during the show's long run.
Peaky Blinders, set in England in the aftermath of World War I, is essentially Sons of Anarchy in period clothing, right down to the fact both are at their best when they forgo the bigger-is-better approach to storytelling and focus on more intimate stories involving the power struggles and internal conflicts of family. Led by Thomas Shelby (a truly impressive Cillian Murphy), the Peaky Blinders, a gang that sews razor blades into their caps, start out as a relatively small criminal organization in Birmingham. However, under Tommy's leadership, and with his brothers Arthur (Paul Anderson) and John (Joe Cole) by his side, they eventually break into legitimate business circles to cover up their illegal enterprises and their wealth and power increases exponentially. But criminality and violence aren't the only ways in which the two shows are similar; both also feature fierce family matriarchs (Sons' Katey Sagal vs. Peaky's Helen McCrory) who effectively call the shots but are not involved in the day-to-day operations of the organization. And if you need any more proof the shows are the same, Tommy Flanagan also pops up as the father of Tommy, Arthur, and John.
The similarities between Yellowstone and Sons of Anarchy are numerous: SAMCRO and the Yellowstone ranch hands are both gangs/families that are hard to join and harder to leave; they both have an obsession with codes of masculinity, toxic and otherwise; there's an outlaw spirit of us-against-the-world ruggedness in each of them; there are women in the family who are tougher than any of the men (Katey Sagal's Gemma on Sons and Kelly Reilly's Beth on Yellowstone); and of course Charlie Hunnam and Luke Grimes' whole vibe. There's even some significant personnel overlap: Yellowstone's co-creator, writer, executive producer, and director Taylor Sheridan appeared on Sons of Anarchy as Deputy Police Chief David Hale, and the series' co-creator, John Linson, also executive-produced Sons of Anarchy. In a very real way, Yellowstone would not exist without Sons of Anarchy. –Liam Mathews
If it's greasy and burly dudes with long hair riding around on dangerous vehicles that you're looking for, consider Outsiders your four-wheeled Sons of Anarchy. The WGN America series was released in 2016 when the network was putting out great, underwatched stuff, and follows a gang (ok, an inbred family) of Appalachian hillbillies wanting their way of off-the-grid life undisturbed while developers slowly encroach on their land, putting them at odds with the local town and law enforcement. It's got extreme violence, eff'd up interpersonal drama, and Opie (Ryan Hurst plays a major character), essentially everything you loved about Sons of Anarchy. –Tim Surette
If the part of Sons of Anarchy that most appealed to you was SAMCRO doling out violence and taking vengeance upon those who'd crossed them or hurt the ones they loved, you might want to talk to someone -- and then dig your teeth into Netflix and Marvel's comic book series The Punisher, a two-season show that manages to find the humanity in its angry leading man, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), in between bouts of extreme violence. The character, known for his rage and lethal take-no-prisoners mentality, often sparks conversations about morality and vigilante justice, but the show also digs into larger issues like grief, mental health, veterans affairs, and more. And if you peel back the machismo that draws in many of the show's viewers, you'll find there are other similarities too, the biggest being that Frank is a former Marine who is betrayed by one of his brothers, which leads to a fracturing of friendship and Frank questioning everything he thought he knew.
A show with a title like Hell on Wheels just sounds like it'll appeal to fans of a biker drama, but the wheels in question don't refer to motorcycles; Hell on Wheels is a Western set against the backdrop of the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad that follows the men and women of the mobile camp, known as Hell on Wheels, that traveled with it. The series stars a bearded Anson Mount as Cullen Bohannon, a former Confederate soldier and slave owner who sets out at the beginning of the series to avenge the murder of his family, and Common as Elam, a recently freed slave who works alongside Bohannon and eventually becomes his ally as their relationship builds upon a foundation of mutual respect. Hell on Wheels digs into topics like corruption and greed and the perils of power, all of which should be familiar to fans of Sons of Anarchy.
Italy's exceptional crime drama Gomorrah, based on journalist Roberto Saviano's nonfiction book of the same name, is most often compared to The Wire or The Sopranosbecause of its focus on organized crime, but it will also appeal to fans of Sons of Anarchy as well. Telling the story of a new but fictional Neapolitan crime syndicate, the series pulls on the familiar threads of power, corruption, and a cycle of never-ending violence that we all know so well by now, but when the leader of the syndicate ends up in prison, the pressure of rivals moving in on his territory ratchets up the tension and leaves those on the outside to shoulder the burden of running the family business. Gomorrah can be quite heavy at times -- while Sons of Anarchy was violent, it was also a soap opera on wheels, which kept the pace revved up; the story and violence of Gomorrah's warring criminal enterprises tends to be darker and lingers for longer. However, despite its bleakness, the show is also beautifully made, and you'll find it hard to look away.